Most Americans disagree with the Republican-controlled Senate’s plan to temporarily avoid filling the vacant seat on the Supreme Court.
Apparently, so do some of the party’s own senators.
“I would rather have you complaining to me that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I’m not doing my job,” Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran said during a meeting with constituents this week, according to a local Kansas newspaper.
Moran was the latest setback in the overall GOP plan, which pledges to avoid even holding hearings on Judge Merrick Garland, US President Barack Obama’s recent nomination to the vacant Supreme Court seat.
Two other GOP senators have called for action on Garland. And a majority of Americans disagree with the GOP’s platform of refusing to hold a hearing, multiple polls show.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 52% of respondents are in favour of Garland not only getting a hearing, but being confirmed to the Supreme Court. Just 29% are not in favour of Garland’s confirmation, while 19% hold no opinion. Among Republicans who participated in the poll, 33% want to see Garland confirmed, while 51% are not in favour — a surprisingly small gap when compared to the 75%-11% gap in favour of confirmation for Democrats polled
Garland’s margins are more favourable than Justice Elena Kagan when she was nominated by Obama for a seat in 2010, per Gallup. Back then, 46% of respondents were in favour of her confirmation while 32% were against it and 22% held no opinion.
Another poll, this one conducted by CBS News/The New York Times, found that 53% of respondents wanted to see the Senate hold a hearing for Garland before Obama’s term is up, while 42% were against it. Even more striking, a majority of Republicans — a 52% to 45% margin — felt that the GOP wing of the Senate was refusing to hold a hearing for political reasons and did not have the best interest of the country in mind.
One final poll, this time from Monmouth University, found that margin to be even wider. A surprising 62% of Republicans felt their party’s Senate representatives were simply playing politics while just 28% felt the plan to thwart a hearing for Garland has the best interest of the country in mind. Overall, 69% of respondents in that poll — all registered voters — were in favour of a hearing for Garland. Just 25% opposed a hearing before the end of Obama’s term.
While it’s true that a majority of Republicans still agree with the GOP leadership’s platform regarding Garland, the numbers show a legitimate division within the party’s base as well as the nation overall.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has led the stand against holding a hearing for Garland and insisted the next president should be the one to fill the seat, which opened after Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent death.
“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration,” McConnell said last Wednesday. “The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”
But cracks have already begun to form within McConnell’s party. Some GOP senators have agreed to meet with Garland, while others have said they’d push his nomination through during the lame-duck session if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were to win the presidency.
Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois even said his fellow GOP senators should “man up” and hold a vote for Garland, while Moran called for a break with his party’s leadership as well.
“I can’t imagine the president has or will nominate somebody that meets my criteria, but I have a job to do,” he said. “I think the process ought to go forward.”